Recently, I braved the wilderness to go on an adventure with friends who appreciate whitewater paddling and camping on the shoreline. I expected to learn some new skills and have some thrills barreling down the rapids, but what I didn't expect was the moment to moment opportunities to appreciate the amazing little things in life that I so often take for granted.
Here are just a few things I felt intense appreciation and gratitude for on my recent trip down the Spanish River.
Freedom from cell reception - as the train rolled towards our drop off point on the side of the tracks somewhere near Sudbury, cell reception disappeared and so did the phones. What a pleasure not to respond like Pavlov's dog to the binging and singing of not only my cell phone, but the 6 other phones that accompanied us on the trip. Conversation flowed throughout the week and not once was there a phone between my face and the one I was conversing with - well, not unless I was taking a picture (and I'm grateful for this opportunity to capture the moments to reminisce later).
Temperature - When you spend every moment outside you become very aware of changing temperatures and weather conditions. I was so grateful for the comfort of a sweater, or the shade of a tarp or the warmth of a campfire, or the snuggliness of a sleeping bag. Hot tea, cold water, warm rice, cold yogurt... the temperature really made a difference in how we appreciated our moments.
Safety - I'm not always one to think ahead, in fact I proved that about myself when I jumped out of the canoe into shallow water and hurt my knee. I continually realized as we moved through our trip that our guides (friends who volunteered to organize and lead our trip) had put an enormous amount of planning into making our experience safe and smooth. Emergency phones, first aid kits and patch kits, menu, equipment, maps, logistics and systems were all in place. My friends even went as far as to remind us to drink water and wear sunscreen. Oh... how uncomfortable and dangerous things can be when safety precautions are missed. I'm so grateful for the experience of the folks who took care of our adventure.
Abilities - Paddling on one side of the canoe was a bit strenuous for my shoulders and arms for seven days, however I realized that because my body is so strong and versatile, I was able to have the experience of a lifetime. I can carry weight, propel a vehicle (boat) swim and hike. My heart pumps, my body moves, and my energy gives me the endurance to go through my days with ease. How blessed am I to have the senses and the strength to live each day in this universe with such power and vitality.
Kindness - Eight different people, from eight different lives came together to share in an adventure in the wilderness. Each person had a different level of patience, capacity and perspective. Somehow we supported each other, laughed together and made beautiful memories. We took good care of each other, entertained each other and took responsibility for each other's experiences. I was so appreciative of the kindness of others - something I don't notice enough throughout my daily routine at home.
Since my return to civilization, I find the appreciation is still with me, as I take advantage of the conveniences of city living. Running clean water, refrigeration, warm clean laundry, soft beds. It's all so much sweeter when you've been away from the amenities for a while.
When it comes to making life changes, it is important to reflect on what you appreciate. Perhaps you need to step out of your element to recognize the things you may take for granted, or perhaps you need to just step out of your mental state. Practice being mindful - or paying attention to thoughts, feelings and emotions - as your day unfolds. What do you just love? What fires you up? What are you truly grateful for? How does this inspire you to take action?
What do you appreciate? I would love to know, please feel free to share with me.